Press Trust of india

Badminton in Tokyo Olympics going to be tougher than last three Games: Saina

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New Delhi, Mar 31:  India’s ace shuttler Saina Nehwal says the badminton competition at next year’s Olympics will be tougher than the last three Games and she is working on fitness and improving her game in the run-up to the showpiece event in Tokyo.

Saina has been troubled by injuries of late. After her knee surgery in 2016, she has been striving hard to return to her peak form. She was World No. 1 for a few weeks in 2015.

“Yes, it (competition in 2020 Olympics) will be much tougher (than earlier three editions). The Chinese shuttlers are playing really well. More than them, a lot of other girls are playing really well. It is going to be very tough,” Saina told PTI in an exclusive interview.

“But as of now, I’m not thinking about Olympics or about how I will qualify for it. I am thinking more about doing well in tournaments, improving my game and keeping myself injury free and fit,” Saina said at the sidelines of Pramerica Spirit of Community Awards event in Gurgaon, for which she is the Programme Ambassador.

For India to send two shuttlers in Tokyo Olympics women’s singles, both of them will have to be inside top 16 in the world rankings which will be released after the end of qualification period, on April 30, 2020.

Tokyo Games will be her fourth Olympics, having represented the country in 2008, 2012 and 2016. She reached the quarterfinals in 2008, won a bronze in 2012 and crashed out in group stages in 2016 when she played with a knee inflammation.

Saina skipped the India Open in New Delhi after she developed pancreas infection during the All England Championships earlier this month.

“I am coming out of a pancreas infection and I am planning to play Malaysia Open next week. Let’s see how it happens,” she said.

Asked if she is happy with what has panned out after the surgery in 2016, she said, “I am fighting, trying to improve my game and win as many matches as possible. That is what I can do and the rest I don’t know, because I cannot predict results.

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